NOTE: This novella was published as a standalone ebook somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago by Echelon Press. It was originally published under the name The Baton, but after Dexter…?
I’m not a bad person. Not really. I pay my bills on time. Like, I’m a goddamn fanatic when it comes to paying bills. I’m not one of those dickheads who runs up a tab and then says “screw it, I got better things to do with my time and money than pay for something I already used.” I don’t do that shit. I pay my bills. My parents did. I do. It runs in the family, like almost a genetic thing…you owe money, you pay it off. And I’m a considerate driver. I mean, I don’t take any shit when I’m driving. I mean, some asswipe cuts me off, I give him the finger. It’s a woman…hey, I’m all for equal rights…I give her the finger too. But before I lost my license, I stopped for pedestrians. I stopped and let people out at intersections, even if it meant that the prick behind me honked his horn and I had to give him the finger. Or her the finger. Makes no difference to me. I’m that fucking considerate.
I’m not some kind’ve sexual deviate. I haven’t had it in a long time and, you know, like I’ve done some arm wrestling with the Big Snake, but I don’t bop hard bellies…nineteen’s my cutoff and no younger no matter how big their tits are. And when a lady says back off, I back off. No’s no in my book, same as hers. And I don’t watch porno flicks or read those expensive hardcore magazines. Playboy and Penthouse. That’s my limit.
I don’t cheat on my tax forms, even if I knew how to do that. I don’t steal. I don’t lie, at least unless I really have to and then it’s okay because I really have to. You know…life’s gray sometimes. I don’t talk about my friends behind their backs. I don’t do that ever, and I’ve smacked a couple of dicks in the head for doing that in the past. No excuse for backstabbing your friends. No excuse at all. I don’t cut into lines if I see somebody I know near the front of the line. I hate it when people do that! I don’t play my music loud. I figure my music is my choice and it might not be my neighbor’s choice, so I keep it to myself. That’s kind’ve a choice I make for everybody so, like, being considerate can even be empowering sometimes. I don’t give the check-out people in grocery stores or department stores a hard time when their computerized cash machines fuck up or the bar thing on the merchandise doesn’t work and makes the computer fritz out. I don’t give innocent people a hard time. Innocent people get a hard time from every direction…but not from me. I don’t do that.
But there’s one thing I do…and I gotta say that I really love doing it.
I kill assholes.
About one a month.
What finally broke the camel’s back was one day when the guy in the scabby t-shirt spit on the sidewalk. That was it. Shit. I was sitting on a bench eating a sandwich. He saw me sitting on the bench eating my sandwich. And the cocksucker spit…I mean, a big white stream of white gunk, the kind that’s thick and sticks to the sidewalk like dirty lard. I mean, what kind’ve asshole does a thing like that? And he was looking right at me when he did it. Like his eyes were saying: “Enjoying that sandwich, chump? Here, enjoy this.” Hack. Pitchu. White gob piled up on the sidewalk right in front of me. And I lost my appetite.
So I followed the prick.
Yeah, followed him. Really surprised myself when I did that. Just stood up and went after the dumb prick. He didn’t see me…didn’t even suspect that somebody was walking behind him about thirty feet away and sticking to him like a shadow. Probably all wrapped in thinking who he was gonna gross out next. Prick.
I followed him for most of the day…and what a prick he turned out to be. Like, right after grossing me out, and I mean, this was only about a block away, about two point zero minutes after grossing me out…he shoved a kid.
Like, he was walking down the sidewalk all wrapped up in asswipe thoughts, probably laughing his brains out about grossing me out a block and two point zero minutes back, and he’s not even looking where he’s going and there’s this little girl in a sort of white and blue sailor’s dress and she’s just standing on the sidewalk right in front of this prick with her back to him. I dunno, maybe waiting for a cab or something…maybe waiting for a friend. But the prick I’m following comes up behind her and instead of just moving a few inches to the side and walking around her, the jerk reaches out his hand and pushes her. Just pushes her! Knocks her right down on her ass. And just keeps on walking. I mean, the little girl didn’t start crying or anything…just got back up and made a nasty face at the guy’s back and went back to waiting or whatever she was doing. I would’ve stopped and asked her if she was okay, but I didn’t wanna draw any attention to myself, following this prick and all, you know. So I just kept on walking and, shit, it didn’t take long before he was into it again.
This time with a dog tied to a street sign in front of a music store. It was one of those ones you read about a lot, attacking kids and stuff. Not a Doberman…the other one, with the flat ugly face. But it was all tied up to the sign and it wasn’t growling or dripping stuff or anything, just lying down all curled up and looking like any normal dog, but the guy I’m following slows down and looks into the window of the music store and looks to the other side. Prick didn’t look behind himself so he didn’t see me, but he suddenly bends over and scoops up a piece of red brick that was littering the sidewalk from construction on the building next to the music store, and not thinking that anybody’s watching him, he just ups and throws the piece of brick right into the poor dog’s side, and the dog takes to yelping and growling at the prick but it’s tied up to the street sign and the dumb prick I’m following walks around the dog just far enough to be out of biting range.
And what happens when the owner comes rushing out of the store after hearing his dog making all that noise? Old guy in one of those hats. Even wearing suspenders. The prick turns on the old guy and starts giving him shit for having a vicious dog and says that he oughta call the cops. Fucking nerve! The old guy just stands there looking between the prick and the dog and not knowing what to say, just looking kind’ve old and confused and worried about his dog…maybe even afraid that he’s gonna lose the dog if this creep calls the cops. But the prick just turns around and keeps on walking.
And I keep on following him.
By now I’ve got this guy sized up for a real creep. He’s about medium tall, real short hair like he’s one of those punk guys but he’s not wearing those fruity red boots or anything. He’s wearing a dirty brown t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and Jesus boots with no socks. I always hated those fairies in sandals. Think they’re cool, but they’re just a bunch of fucking fairies. He’s got squinty eyes and a long nose. Hate those too. And his mouth is kind’ve pinched up like he spends a lotta time sucking on his thumb or something.
And then he does it again.
Prick gobs another big white pile of spit on the sidewalk like something he’s been saving up at the back of his mouth for a long time. Even looks down at it and I swear he was smiling, thinking about the people who were gonna walk by that pile of shit and gag or barf or something. Cocksucker.
I followed him for another hour, watching him gob and strut and act like a prick, like when he went down a whole block with a key scraping the sides of parked cars. Shit, one of them was a ’78 Firebird. In immaculate condition! Prick should have his hands cut off for something like that!
That’s when I knew that I had to do something, something that was gonna really put him in his place, something that would, I dunno, even the score or something. The prick spit again on the sidewalk and it was, like, all this white froth blowing out of his mouth and that’s when it came to me. That’s when I knew what I had to do. That’s when I made up my mind that I was gonna do it.
I followed him home. I found out where he lived, at least what apartment building he lived in, and it was a real dump. No surprise in that. The sidewalk had all kinds of garbage piled up. Even the steps leading up to the doors of the buildings on his street had fuck graffiti painted on them. Just figure what the buildings looked like…and his was the worst on the block. But I knew where he lived. I knew where to find him. And that’s just what I was gonna do…find him every day for the next few days and follow him.
Prick wasn’t working so he just walked around every day with me following him and him doing the same messed up stuff every single day…spitting all over the sidewalks, scratching cars, stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down and hanging around with a bunch of losers just like him, but he didn’t spend much time with them…seemed like they didn’t much like him either. Seemed like they cussed him a lot and said things that pissed him off, but then they looked pretty pissed off all the time. Buncha bald-headed leathered-up weirdoes is what they were.
But here’s what I did. I followed him and I carried a big empty Vitamin C bottle and a butter knife. And whenever he spit on the sidewalk, I waited until he got a good distance away and then I went over to the spit and scraped it up with the butter knife before it could sink into the sidewalk or dry up. Sickening shit that was, but I did it. And I didn’t barf once. Came close a couple of times, ‘specially at first, but I kept my cookies down. And I followed the prick around for nearly a week…until I had a full bottle of his gob. Man, it was starting to stink like something dead when I opened I up to put more in. You can bet I was glad when it was full and I wouldn’t have to be smelling that shit anymore, at least, not for more than one more time…and it was good that it smelled bad for that one more time.
If it smelled that bad, then it must’ve tasted twice as bad.
I think it was something like the fourth or fifth day that I was following him that I was ready. This time when he walked up the steps and through the door and into his building, I followed him right in. Not really close…just close enough that that I wouldn’t lose sight of him. But, hell, I wasn’t really all that worried about his seeing me anymore.
Nothing was gonna stop me now.
He looked around when I came through the door and he gave me a look like I was maybe the most unimportant thing in the universe let alone his life and he just looked away and started walking up the worst set of rickety-rackety steps I’ve ever seen in probably the worst looking stairwell on the planet. The walls looked like the people that died in World War III…like, when it ever happens. I followed him up the stairs and the prick never even suspected he was being followed, just walked up the steps real arrogant like and I followed him up to the third floor. The hall was the shits…I mean, the walls here were painted with bad smells instead of paint. He stopped at a door. He just turned the knob and walked in. Didn’t even keep the door locked. Man, I could hardly wait to see what this place looked like.
It was a dump. Just like the hall. Just like the prick I was following, and he was looking at me now…still with that fucking arrogant better-than-you look, but I could tell that he was worried about seeing me coming through the door with a big Vitamin C bottle in my hand. I could smell the worry, like he was sweating it or something.
“Who the fuck are you?” he said.
“Got a present for ya, prick,” I said.
That’s when he got really worried…soon as I called him prick. He knew I wasn’t no friend, and now I could really smell the sweat coming off his asshole body.
“Take your fuckin’ present and get the fuck out of here,” he yelled. He still had that arrogant look, but I could smell the sweat.
“But I put a lot of work into this present for you,” I said.
Now he looked a little bit puzzled like he almost wanted to know what the present was, ‘specially thinking that a lotta work went into it, but I could smell that he was afraid of finding out what it was…probably got a lot of rocks and dog shit wrapped up as presents when he was a kid. He sure didn’t look like the popular kind. Not like me. I was popular…or else.
“I don’t care how much work you put into it…take your fuckin’ present and get the fuck out of here now!”
That’s when I just dove right at him. I’m one fast motherfucker. People don’t expect that in someone my size, but it’s true…I’m like pig fat on a freeway. I took the cocksucker by surprise. Works every time. People don’t expect people to just attack that sudden. Catches them with their guard down, even if it’s already up. I was on him and he was on the floor and I was on top of him and I had one hand clutching his throat, squeezing the life out of him. His ugly hairless face was kind’ve bloated like and now he looked more pissed off than arrogant, but I could smell the sweat in his eyes like it was rotten hamburger. He tried squirming his body around, but I was too heavy for him. He was trapped. I pushed my face right into his ugly face and I said: “I spent a lotta time on this fucking gift for you and you’re gonna take it. You ain’t got no choice, ya prick.”
He just stared up into my face, gagging and turning purple, while I wedged the big Vitamin C bottle on my hand that was squeezing the prick’s throat and used my other hand to untwist the top. I tossed the top away and took the bottle in my free hand and held it right over his mouth.
“You ever hear the old expression, what goes around comes around, prick?” I said. He just gagged and looked confused. Dumb fuck. “I’m the guy who was sitting on the bench last week, remember? You ruined my lunch with this stuff!”
And then I jammed the top of the bottle into his mouth and watched the shit inside pour slowly into the prick’s mouth. Watching that thick shit emptying into a human mouth almost made me puke but I watched. I mean, it was like I had to watch, like it would be some kind’ve crime against God if I didn’t. So I watched. And when the bottle was empty except for the stuff sticking to the insides of it, I pulled it out and, really fast, I put my hand over his mouth so’s he couldn’t spit the shit out. That part felt really right. He was stuck with his own gob in his mouth and couldn’t spit it out. Stuck with himself, sort of.
And then something really weird happened. At first it made the hair all over my body kind’ve stand up or something, it was that weird, but then the weirdness kind’ve melted away into something else.
I mean, I couldn’t see his mouth because I had my hand over it, but I was looking right into the prick’s eyes and it almost looked like he was smiling. He wasn’t struggling or anything, just lying there with his mouth full of scraped-up gob and me sitting on him and his eyes were smiling. And then his eyes kind’ve went really dull, like, what’s that word? When something looks not as bright…luster! They lost their luster. And he still wasn’t moving, not struggling or anything, just lying there with a mouth full of gob and all the life drained out of his eyes. And that’s when I realized what was so weird.
Prick was dead.
I walked around for the rest of the day just thinking about that prick, what an asshole he was, how I followed him and scraped up his spit, watching him and getting to know what a complete asshole he was and then making him eat is own gob. But mostly I thought about that look in his eyes just before he died. And about the way he just sort’ve gave it all up and stopped struggling before he was dead, like he didn’t give a fuck, like he didn’t even want to go on living, like he was almost happy or something. I mean, that smile in his eyes…
I thought about the way that made me feel. It was almost like some kind’ve freed up feeling, like a lot of stuff was being lifted off my shoulders…or like some kind’ve cosmic vacuum cleaner sucked a shit load of crap out of me. It was like God himself was in my arms, in my hands, making it all happen, making it all come to some kind’ve close. It was like I was the last chapter in that asshole’s life.
I was the happy ending.
It made me think about assholes in general, about all the people in my life…in everybody’s lives…who make living more of a hell than it really is. I thought about those assholes who call you up on the phone…on your own fucking phone…and try to sell you something you don’t want and don’t need. I mean, one of those dumbasses dragged me out the shower when I still had a phone and I was dripping water and soap all over the floor while some idiot asks me if I want to buy gardening equipment and I’m telling the prick that I live on the third floor of a fucking apartment building but he says that it’s on sale and they’re never gonna be selling the gardening stuff at this price again, whatever the fuck it is–I don’t know dick about gardening–so I should buy it or I’ll miss out. “I live in a fucking apartment building!” I screamed at the prick. “The back yard’s a fucking parking lot!” And the prick still tried to sell me gardening shit. I hung up. I would’ve killed the prick. I would’ve jumped right through the phone line and killed the prick if he would’ve called back.
That’s what I mean about assholes in general. Like the people who make those automated telephone answering systems that send you around and around, asking for this option and that option, and sending you to this place and that place, and then they send you into some fucking dead end with dead end music like the shit they play in elevators or in some doctors’ offices. I think it’s supposed to calm you. It just pisses me off. And I really get pissed off at the ones that say: “Your call is important to us. Please hold.” If my call is so fucking important, then pick up the phone and turn off that goddam music! Almost seems like phones breed assholes.
* * *
My second asshole had a cell phone.
I hate those things. Don’t know how many times I’ve come a pube hair away from being run over by some asshole talking away on a phone while he’s, or she’s–and it’s really easy to be sexually orientated fair on this one–driving along yakking away on the phone, all wrapped up on the cell phone and not watching where they’re going, so god help anybody who gets in their path because they’re gonna ram their front bumper up your ass and probably just keep on driving and never even know they killed anybody. If assholes had uniforms, they’d probably have cell phones hanging all over their jackets like soldiers have grenades hanging there. Fucking grenades probably do less damage.
So there I was…about a month after killing Mr. Gob-a-Lot…sitting in a this place having a coffee and chocolate dip donut or three, and there’s these two guys sitting about four seats away from me and they’re talking away. One of them is small with dark hair and he’s like mostly listening to the other guy, who’s kind’ve big–maybe about one ninety-five or thereabouts–and they’re talking for about five minutes, mostly the big guy talking, like I said, but I’m kind’ve of studying them. I do that a lot…just sort’ve look at people and try to figure them out, see if I can guess what they’re about. Think maybe someday I might, you know, write a book or something. I think I got a lotta stories I could write about. But I’m thinking that these guys work together or something. I mean, they’re both wearing white shirts and ties and it looks like they just sort’ve dropped into this place for a coffee break to talk business maybe. And right when the little guy starts to say something, the big guy holds up a finger to shut him up and pulls out a cell phone and starts talking into it.
What the hell is the world coming to! I’ve seen this a million times. The big guy just starts yakking away on the phone as though the other guy doesn’t even exist, as though as soon as the cell phone rang or buzzed or whatever they do, the little guy just disappeared into some other world, like he existed only when the big guy wasn’t talking on the cell phone. At that moment, I could’ve gone right over to their table and grabbed that phone and shoved in right down the prick’s throat. “Fucking message on hold!” I could’ve yelled while he choked on his call. I watched for about five minutes and the whole time the big prick didn’t even look at the other guy…yakked away on the phone. The little guy looked kind’ve like he really didn’t give a shit at first, just sipped his coffee and sort’ve looked around the place, but after five minutes, he looked like he was starting to get a little bit irritated, and if the big guy had given a fuck about anything else but talking on his cell phone, he would’ve seen that the guy he was sitting with was getting just a little bit pissed.
I kept watching. By this time, I could’ve just started smashing the phone over the big guy’s head until I cracked his skull open. The little guy was starting to get fidgety. He took a business card out of his shirt pocket and started reading it and flicking it with his thumb. I wanted to just yell at him to just get up and walk out of the place and leave the prick with the phone sitting there talking all by himself. But he stayed and the longer he stayed, the madder I got. The more he flicked that fucking business card, the more I wanted to kill the big prick with the phone.
So that’s exactly what I did.
Not right away though. Not right then. In fact, as soon as I made up my mind that I was gonna to kill the prick, I calmed down. I wasn’t mad anymore. I was determined. I was determined that the prick with the cell phone was gonna die, so I just sat there all relaxed and drinking my coffee and watching the two men for about another ten minutes while the big guy yakked and yakked on the cell phone. I mean, there’s assholes and there’s assholes…making anybody wait that long while you just ignore the poor bastard while you talk on a phone sitting right in front of the guy so that he can’t do anything but try to not interrupt your call and pretend that his time is worth dick-all while the other guy just yaks and yaks. The little guy was getting more irritated. Like, it showed in the way his eyes were all over the place like he was looking for some place to escape but always coming back to the card he flicked with his thumb because there was no way out…except maybe to just get up and walk out. But he wasn’t gonna do that.
And that made me think…one of the biggest things that assholes have going for them is the fact that the people they fuck over don’t do anything. They just sit there and take it, just like the little guy was doing right now. Just sitting there wanting to get up and just walk out but glued to his chair because he didn’t want to look like an asshole by walking out on the other guy. I mean, shit, that might interrupt the prick’s phone call. They got all those books on etiquette and doing and saying the right thing, but somebody should write a book about when you don’t have to be considerate anymore, about that line that people cross over where you don’t have to treat them like humans anymore and you can just tell them to go fuck themselves. Maybe some day I’ll write that book. I got a lotta thoughts on the subject.
And then, wonder of wonders, the big guy finally finishes his call and puts the phone back in his pocket and, get this, he just like starts talking to the other guy like nothing ever happened, like he didn’t just spend nearly half an hour ignoring him and making him waste his entire coffee break listening to some fat tub of cell phone yakking machine blatting to some dumbass somewhere else who’s probably doing the same thing at that end. He didn’t even say he was sorry. I could see it in the way he looked while he talked. It was like the little guy was nothing more than some kind’ve stage prop in a play all about the big guy and everything that he didn’t have time for was just supposed to disappear but be right there when he paid attention to it again.
Yeah. This guy had to die.
I waited a bit after they left and then I got up and followed them. They were walking. That was a sign. It meant the big guy had to die. I mean, if they were in a car, I wouldn’t be able to follow them, but they were walking. They walked down the sidewalk about a block away to a discount furniture store. I was right…they worked together…probably furniture salesmen. The store was pretty shabby looking: big dirty windows with cracked tiles under them, and the top part of the building looked like it had cheap apartments and probably needed paint for the last fifty years. But there seemed to be a lot of customers inside looking around. Must be good prices. I walked by the door and slowed down just enough to read the sign with the hours listed. They closed at nine.
That’s when the big guy would be mine.
I was parked across the street when the store closed. I was kind’ve split between which was the bigger high…killing the asshole with the phone or using a stolen car. I was fucked if I was caught at either of them, completely fucked if I was caught at both. But what the…with my record, I was already fucked. No loss!
He was the first out. That figured. Probably left all the paperwork for his skinny buddy. And, holy shit! He was walking out of the store with his cell phone jammed into his ear. But that was good. Meant that he wasn’t looking around, wasn’t seeing me waiting there across the street for him. He was all wrapped up in something that had nothing to do with here and now. And I was here and now.
He walked into a parking lot around the corner of the store and disappeared for a couple of minutes. Then his car pulled out of the lot and onto the street. He was driving away from me. Great! I didn’t have to do a ninety-degree, or whatever they call that thing they do. He was driving a Toyota something or other…no patriotism…but that figured. And the prick was still talking on the phone. Took the turn onto the street wide. Not paying attention. Not here and now, where I was waiting for him. I started up the car and followed him. Prick was all over the road, head bobbing up and down while he talked, not paying any attention at all to his driving. Pissed me off so much, I almost hit an old guy who came right out of nowhere on a crosswalk.
He finally pulled up in front of a small single-floor house in a sort of nice neighborhood, like the kind’ve place where there’s no bars on the doors or windows, but there’s all these signs that the place is close to bars…paint peeling on just about all the houses, garbage on the curbs that looks like it’s been there a while meaning that the city’s starting to give up on this street, same with the burnt out street lights and the street signs painted over with “fuck you” for god knows how long.
This is where the dumbass lived. This was his house. The lights were off. He lived alone…or the others were out. But I figured he just lived alone. Only real people in this prick’s life were at the other end of his cell phone.
His next call was gonna be a wake up call from reality.
Reality was parked across the street from his house, watching him, and noticing that there was no basketball net over the garage door. Something unnatural about that. Reminded me of when I was a kid.
I waited for the deep dark, the time when everybody’s probably in bed, even the dogs. I got out of the car and walked real casual-like up to his yard and looked around. Nobody was looking out the windows of any of the other houses, so I ducked into a clump of bushes and made my way up to the house. Fucking prickly rose bushes in there somewhere. Hate those things. There was light coming from a window at the side of the house and that’s where I went. I looked in and there he was, sitting in a recliner chair, watching TV, eating something from a white bowl. That’s when I noticed how big the prick’s gut was. Must wear a girdle or something in the daytime. His arms were big, but they didn’t look hard. I could take this guy…I knew it. I made my way around the house, peeking into all the windows I could see into, and it looked like he was alone.
It was time to kill him.
I went to the front door and knocked. Just like that…I knocked on the door and stood there like I was just any old visitor dropping by at two o’clock in the morning to pay a visit or something. Who the fuck knows, these days. Prick just opened the door. Didn’t even ask who it was. Cocky bastard, this one. He said: “What the hell do you want?” I just ran right into him. Pushed upward on his upper body and lifted him right off his center of gravity and down he went onto the floor. I kicked the door closed with my foot and then punched him a couple or three times with my fists until he stopped struggling as much. He could take a beating…but soon as he quieted, I jumped up and brought my foot down into his chest as hard as I could. I could hear bones snapping. Ugly sound, but this prick needed it. I looked around and saw just what I needed.
He was sort of squirming around on the floor with a dazed look in his eyes, or at least the one that he could still open. He must’ve farted, ’cause the air was filled with something that smelled like burning sulfur. He was moaning with a kind’ve gurgling sound. I didn’t have much time. I jumped across the living room and grabbed his cell phone from the TV table beside his recliner chair and then jumped back fast to where he was just starting to push himself up on his elbow. I let him have it in the side of the head with the cell phone. And then I let him have it again with the cell phone…this time square in the face. By this time, he wasn’t making any more noises and I wasn’t saying a word. It was just the two of us, looking at each other and the only noise was the sound of the cell phone smashing into his face until I was sure that the cocksucker wasn’t ever gonna talk on the phone again while some poor bastard had to wait for him.
Walking home from his place, I did a lot of thinking. I guess killing people does that to you. I thought about what a fucked up world telephones were making the place. I remembered when I still had one…assholes calling me up and asking me to buy all kind’ve crap I didn’t want. One time, this bitch calls me up–although I know some guys who’re bitches, just to be fair with the sex thing–and she starts asking me questions about what kind’ve shit I buy and I said: “I don’t do shit over the phone. Take me off your fucking list.” And she says: “I’ll do that, sir, but first, can you tell me how many children you have?” I hung up. Phones make it easier for assholes to be assholes. They make it possible for the assholes to come right into your home and fuck you up. Best thing that ever happened to me was losing my phone.
* * *
It was just a little over a month after that that I killed another asshole.
Started in a movie theater this time. I was watching a movie, minding my own business, and this skinny prick sits right down behind me. Lots of other empty seats in the place, but he sits right down behind me. Place was so empty I could almost hear the dumbass breathing. Prick even knocked my chair a couple of times. People should have their feet cut off for doing that. Then I heard some kind’ve crinkling noise, like paper or something. And then I heard it…the one sound that I really hate coming from another human being.
He was chewing gum. With his fucking mouth open! Making all kinds’ve snapping and cracking noises, bouncing the wad of gum off his tongue, wrapping it around his teeth, and making sucking noises with his lips. Whole theater with empty seats and this prick has to sit down right behind me and chew his gum with his fucking mouth open.
Big mistake, asshole.
And there was the feeling again…once I knew that I was gonna kill him, I calmed down. The sound didn’t bother me anymore, just fed my resolve, and I kind’ve enjoyed it now. I sat right through the whole movie listening to him chewing and smacking his lips together. Prick went through three pieces of gum. I turned my head sideways once and saw him putting the chewed-out gum under his seat. That’s why I never touch the bottom of a seat in a movie theater ever since I was a kid and put my hand right smack into a pile of sticky gum that I had to wash off in the washroom and miss half the movie. Man, would I like to run into the dumb prick who put that gum under the seat now. Right fucking now. But he’s long gone. Probably choked to death on a wad of gum.
But the prick behind me was here. Still chewing. With his mouth open. Right behind me. Pretty soon…pretty soon, prick wasn’t gonna be chewing gum anymore. I can’t even remember any of the fuck scenes in the movie…just remember trying to think about how I was gonna handle this one.
It had to be gum. Just like the prick who spit all over the place. This asshole had to die by gum. Fuck, that meant following him around for the next week, hoping the prick would spit out the gum where I could get it. But if the guy had to die by gum, then that’s the way he was gonna die and I would follow him around and I would pick up the slime ball’s gum wads and save them for him. This thing had to be done right, and I was gonna do it right.
I’m that much in tune with my inner balance.
The movie ended and they started playing the credits–credits for a fuck movie…yeah, sure–and the five or six people in the place stayed and watched them, maybe waiting to see if they were gonna give out the phone numbers of the sluts in the movie. Or maybe they just didn’t finish whacking themselves. But the guy behind me got up about a minute into the credits. I stayed where I was, just sort’ve looking over to the side to get a good look at him. Skinny, just like I figured, blond hair growing down over his ears, wearing a blue sports jacket with a wide white line going down one side. Prick wasn’t half bad looking and I wondered what he was doing in a movie like this when he could’ve probably been making it with the real thing. I waited until he was well up the aisle and almost to the exit before I stood up and started following him.
The sun was bright when I walked outside, but these movies were too dicey at night, especially leaving the building. Besides, I figure it’s good to work up your appetite for the nighttime just in case a little action comes along at night. Not much likely to happen in the daytime. I looked around and saw him almost right away. He was on the other side of the street, walking south. Hey, this was looking to be a cooperative asshole…that’s the direction I was gonna go. I crossed the street and followed him.
This neighborhood was a dive. Used to be kind’ve a nice place when I was a kid. Like, the stores used to have big picture windows with lots of neat stuff right up close where you could grab them after smashing the window with a brick. Not anymore though…like everything was barred up and some of the stores even had cashiers inside bulletproof cages with little slots all around where they could poke a shotgun out and like blow your head off. It was a lot easier to get away with things around here when I was a kid.
Two minutes into following the prick from the movies, and like doesn’t he just spit a big wad of gray stuff out of his mouth. Well, Mr. Gum Chewer, looks like you go out the same way as Mr. Gob-a-Lot. I looked around and saw an old cardboard coffee cup by some garbage on the sidewalk. I scooped it up and kept following the prick. I looked around. There were other people walking and standing around doing nothing, but nobody was paying any attention to me or the prick I was following, so when I came to the gum, I scooped it up with the cup. It must’ve still been wet because it didn’t stick to the pavement or anything. This guy was making it too easy for me. Gotta love it when that happens.
I followed him for about three blocks before he came to a door between two storefronts. He unlocked it and walked in without looking around. I went to a restaurant across the street, Dixie’s Diner or something…the words on the big glass window were faded and peeling. On one side of the front, I could see one of those sliding steel grate things that they slide over the front of the place when they close up. Like people just don’t trust people in this neighborhood anymore. Makes it impossible to pull anything. I went in and sat down where I could keep an eye on the prick’s door. Waitress was right on my case to buy something, so I ordered a coffee. Looked like this prick was going to be expensive to kill. Thought that maybe I should save receipts or something and claim them on my taxes the next time I ever filed the fucking things. Position: Asshole Killer. Expenses: One coffee at Dixie’s Dive.
About the same time the waitress was getting in my face again for taking too long to drink the coffee, the prick came out. I gave the waitress a dirty look and left. As I passed by the window, I saw her at my table picking up the cup and looking around for a tip. She looked up and saw me and gave me a dirty look. Watch it lady…I might start following you, so just shove your fucking tips down your throat till change for a buck comes out your ass.
I followed the prick for about a week…took that long to get enough gum saved up. Couple of times, people saw me scoop it up in the old coffee cup and looked at me real disgusted like, but I didn’t hang in this area much anymore anyway, just came around sometimes to check out a fuck movie or three.
This prick had a sort’ve girlfriend he dropped by to see whenever he felt like it. I mean, he spent most of his nights at a pool hall doing a lousy job of sharking…dumbass couldn’t bank worth shit and made about every fourth combination. Sometimes I stayed for a while after he left and got the gum he stuck to the bottom of the table. Had to be real careful about that…fuckers in this place see you doing anything weird and you ain’t walking home…you’re lucky if you can still take a cab home. But the cup was finally full…or about as full as I could wait for it to get. It was time to kill.
I knew about what time he was gonna get home on Monday nights–just before dark–so I was waiting by the pricks’s door when he got home. I had my back to him, leaning against the building like some kind’ve homeless bum or a drunk. I heard the key clinking in the lock and the door creak as he opened it. I half turned my head and watched him go in through the corners of my eyes, and when he was inside, I stepped closer to the door and put my foot out to stop it from closing completely. I stepped right in front of the door and looked up a whitewashed stairway. The prick was nearly at the top of the stairs and he wasn’t looking back, so I scooted in. At the top of the stairs, he turned left into a hallway so I hurried up, trying to be as quiet as possible, like trying not to creak any of the rotten floorboards with my weight.
Dumbass was waiting for me.
Right at the top of the stairs and at the beginning of the hall. Came at me with one of those Karate or Kung Fu kicks, kind that goes around in a big circle and smacks you in the side of the head. Fucking kick did hit me in the side of the head…last place in the world that’s gonna do me any harm. So there he was with his leg still off the ground and me pissed off because the dumb prick just kicked me and almost made me drop the coffee cup filled with gum. I punched downward with my left fist right into his dick and then I brought my right fist–squeezed full’ve the coffee cup and gum–flat down on the top of his head as he doubled up. Prick hit the floor like he was filled with lead. I went down on one knee and grabbed his neck and pulled his head up. I had the gum ready to jam into his mouth, but there was something weird about the way the prick’s head kind’ve just hung in my hand and his eyes were open but not seeing anything. Dumbass was dead.
I stuffed the gum into his mouth anyway.
But I didn’t feel too good about that one…left a kind’ve unfinished taste in my mouth, like there was still something I was supposed to do but I didn’t know what it was. Maybe I was supposed to say something to the prick before he died, or maybe he was supposed to say something to me. Maybe he was supposed to taste all that gum that came from his mouth. I dunno. I thought about it for a while and it didn’t make any sense…so I stopped thinking about it.
Instead, I started thinking about all the kinds of assholes there are in the world. I mean, it was kind’ve of scary at first. I was hearing all these voices, not God’s voice or voices from demons: I’m not crazy or anything…I’m just as normal as you. The voices I was hearing were the voices of all the pissed off, fucked over, dragged down, and tired people of the entire fucking world. You know who I mean…the people just like you who’re like sick and tired of people who call you up when you still had a phone and it’s the wrong number but they just hang up without saying sorry or anything, just hang up as though they’re pissed off at you for being the wrong fucking number. And I heard about the pissed off people who put shit up on bulletins boards in super markets and Laundromats and then come back a few days later and see that some jerk has pinned a notice right on top of theirs so that nobody can even see it.
* * *
That did it! I started hanging around the bulletin board at the Washing Green Laundromat. Just waiting…waiting. Like, it didn’t take long. She was one big, mean looking woman. Big with frizzy brown hair that looked like she dried it in the microwave or something. And she had on too much makeup. She looked like some kind’ve frigate in a parade. Like, right away I knew that she had a mousy little husband who said things like yes dear and yes dear. And she was dressed just the way you would expect…a plain top that didn’t say anything about how big she was, and pants that showed her flat ass. Like, I don’t wanna be prejudiced against fat people or anything, but how could this woman sit down with all that weight on that no-ass and not damage nerves or bones around that place where the rest of us stack our fat. I mean, she had her cushions in all the wrong places.
And then I saw her do it. Fucking bitch (and not all fucking women are bitches, but this one was) took a pin out of one of the ads on the bulletin board and pinned her ad right on top of it. Like, her ad completely covered the other ad…and she was using the other ad’s own pin! Man, that’s like beating somebody to death with their own tire iron. I mean, who would even see the ad underneath her one? They wouldn’t even know to lift hers and look under it for some kind’ve hidden secret message or anything. Whoever put the ad up that she covered was just wasting their time and their paper! I hate it when that happens. I mean, I try to see this from the eyes of the person who wrote the ad she covered. I mean, this is some poor slob who needs money and has to sell something because they can’t afford to pay the bills or some other thing and that’s why they had to put the ad up in the first place. And then some fat bitch with no ass covers it.
Fat bitch had to die.
And to seal it even more, the bitch looks right at me as though I’m some kind’ve dirt…like maybe I’m some kind’ve criminal scum or something. Like, she was gonna pay for that. I waited until she left and then I went over to the bulletin board and pulled her ad off. Some dumpy woman with a hamper gave me a dirty look. I told her that the woman who just left pinned it on top of somebody else’s ad and she said: “And that makes it alright for you to tear her ad down?” If I wasn’t such a fucking gentleman, I would’ve slapped the bitch right in the chops, right there by the bulletin board. But being a gentleman, I just told her to fuck off and walked away with the ad. It’s people like her give the assholes so much power, like those pricks who say jailbirds should have rights and all that shit. Nobody cares about the victims anymore.
When I got outside, I saw her car pull away, big new Buick. Bitch didn’t even need the money. I looked down at the ad. It was for some kind’ve church thing, a bazaar. It had an address. I knew where to find her. It had a date and a time. I knew when to find her. No phone number, though. But that was all right…I wasn’t the kind of weirdo who would play games with the people he was gonna kill.
I was waiting outside the church when she drove up in her big fat Buick. I hate Buicks; they’re for nose-up-their-asses old people who don’t wanna have anything to do with the rest of the world. That’s why every Buick on the planet has tinted windows…just like the one pulling into the church parking lot now. I was standing in a dark area not far from the front doors to the church…just waiting. She got out of her car and walked across the parking lot. I should’ve been waiting there, right in the parking lot, but I was by the front door. Fucking bitch went in a side door. Shit, I had to go in. Had to pay two bucks to some old cow who looked me up and down like I didn’t belong there or something. Figured I might come back for her some day…you know, people who pass judgment on others…biggest assholes of all.
There were tables all over the place, loaded with old used shit that people didn’t want anymore. Some of it was even new shit. Saw an electric wax buffer still in the box for ten bucks. Could’ve used one of those at one time. Then I saw a set of steak knives for a buck. Those, I could still use. I bought them. Then I started looking for the Buick Bitch.
She was at the other end of the room, giving orders to a bunch of old ladies standing around a table with cakes and cookies and other baked shit. She was looking at the old ladies with that same better-than-you look that she gave me at the laundromat. I ran my thumb across the blade of one of the steak knives. This was going to be sweet. I stayed at my end of the room…well away from her…just in case she might’ve recognized me from the Laundromat, and I watched her for about twenty minutes. That was about all I could stomach. I don’t like watching fat old bitches like her pushing sweet little old ladies around. But she wasn’t gonna be doing that for much longer.
I looked around the room. It was a big room. I saw a door about halfway down the wall on my right…and another one on the same wall, but all the way down at the end, where the Buick Bitch was still yakking out orders to the old ladies, getting them to rearrange the cookies and stuff as though making different patterns on the table was gonna make the fucking stuff sell better. I mean, a six-foot long table with cookies and cakes. How much bossing around can anybody on the planet come up with for six feet of church hall real estate? I figured it was the far door, the one closest to the table. She would’ve stormed right through it, taking the old ladies by surprise and making them piss their diapers. Wouldn’t be too hard to find it from the outside.
That was where I was gonna wait for her. As I walked back through the front door, I made sure the old cow at the admission table saw the steak knives. I smiled at her and she looked away from me as fast as she could. Not so fucking uppity now, old shit cow.
I walked around the side of the building to the door at the back and waited in the dark by some high bushes. I wasn’t worried about her coming out with other people. She wouldn’t. I wasn’t worried about her coming out in a crowd at the end of the bazaar. She would leave early, after she got bored pushing people around. And leaving early would just drive in the fact that she was above the others. Come in late…leave early. Stick around just long enough to make life miserable for a bunch of feeble-brained old ladies. She wasn’t gonna be doing that much longer. Not after tonight. Not after meeting my bargain steak knives.
I waited there for about two hours. About a couple dozen people came out, some in groups, some by themselves, but they didn’t even suspect that I was standing over by the bushes, waiting in the dark. Too wrapped up in their little church thing and their little church thoughts. Made me think about the time when I was a kid and I went to church every Sunday like I really believed or something. But I went. Until one day I went to some kind’ve teen thing, a teen dance and activity thing. There was gonna be a lot of knock-out church girls there, the kind that tease your balls off and never give more than a handful of tit…with their fucking bra still on. But I wasn’t getting much of anything anywhere else at the time, so what the fuck, me and my friend Earl went to the dance. Problem was, Earl was a Catholic. The teen thing was in an Anglican church. They told him he couldn’t come in. I told them to take their fucking cock tease dance and stuff it up their ass. Never went to church after that, fucking discriminating assholes.
The door opened.
And there she was, all alone, looking like she was disappointed or something with the whole world because it didn’t live up to her standards or something. I mean, like the whole fucking world was supposed to stop breathing and listen to her breathing so that it could pace her or something. Man, was her breathing in for a big change of pace.
As soon as the door shut behind her, I walked out of the dark by the bushes and walked right up to her. She gave me that same better-than-you look that she gave me in the laundromat. “Remember me?” I asked. She looked really angry and went to say something but saw the knives in my hand. “They’re for you,” I said. And before she could say anything, or scream, I drove one of them right into her throat. Her eyes opened up really wide, like you see in horror movies where some bitch gets killed by some kind’ve murdering psycho. Right away, I shoved another one into her stomach. She tried to look down, all wide-eyed, but could just bend her head a bit because of the knife sticking out of her throat. Now her eyes started to narrow as though she was confused or something. I stuck another knife right into her chest. It didn’t go in far though. Must’ve hit a bone, one of her ribs. Her eyes winced as though that was the first one she felt. Now she was looking at me, right into my eyes. I didn’t like that. She wasn’t uppity now, just confused and looking at me with one of those “why me?” looks that people get when shit they started comes back and bites their ass. I pushed another one into her chest. This one went in, right between the ribs and must’ve hit something important because now the Buick Bitch’s eyes were wide again…not as wide as before but wide, this time with fear. I reached into my pocket and took out the ad that she put up on the bulletin board and showed it to her. She looked at it and gagged. “Remember this?” I said. I shoved the last knife into it and pinned it straight into her forehead. It went in smoothly for going through bone. Good knives. Her face twisted really weird, like she suddenly looked really vulnerable and fragile. I almost felt sorry for her as she fell down with that fragile look all over her face.
I thought about that look all the way home. It was like, just before she died, something that was inside her came to the surface…like what she was until then was some sort of cover or disguise. I started thinking that maybe she was really unsure of herself deep down inside where we all know ourselves better than we think. Maybe she wasn’t such a bad person after all, I thought. Maybe all she needed was for somebody to dig through the shit on top of her personality and get to know her inside and maybe then she would’ve seen that the shit inside her wasn’t so bad after all, and that she didn’t have to be bossing around little old ladies and giving people like me better-than-you looks…and covering other people’s ads with her own. And maybe she would’ve driven a Ford.
Or maybe she was just afraid of dying. Maybe all bullying assholes like her are really just a bunch of cowards under the surface, and now she’s a dead coward. It didn’t take me long to stop thinking about the Buick Bitch.
* * *
It was the next asshole who stopped me from thinking about her.
I was sitting in the living room, staring at the wall, thinking about the Buick Bitch…you know, a relaxing evening, quality time with my thoughts…and suddenly it was like there was a minor earthquake or something. I could feel the floors and walls shaking and I could hear this booming sound coming from outside and it was getting louder and louder. I stopped thinking about the Buick Bitch and went to the window.
Fuck, it was like, when one asshole went down, they passed the baton to the next asshole, and there was the next asshole down in the parking lot in a big black Camaro, from the eighties I was guessing. Fucking million watt stereo pounding out that yappy ghetto crap where people who can’t sing just yell and swear a lot, sort’ve like barrio country music. The sound went something like boom boom boom boom fucking boom boom boom and it filled the whole air around the block with boom boom boom and the dumbass’s windows were all up! Guy must be deaf or something. He turned off the car engine and the music stopped. Then he got out. Young guy with short blond hair and a stunned look on his face. No fucking wonder. Probably deaf from the booming. He walked past a heap of garbage on the sidewalk and ducked into the building with the balconies. Some kind’ve rich deaf dumbass? He can afford a balcony. I didn’t remember seeing him around before, so he must’ve been new to the block.
He should’ve moved somewhere else.
Every night for a month, I listened to his fucking boom boom. He woke me up with it in the day. He dragged me away from my wall at night. He interrupted my thoughts. He disturbed my meals. He pushed his music into my life and backed me up into a corner. For a whole fucking month.
It was time. I didn’t even hear the boom boom boom that night…not once I decided it was time to kill him. It was like, when I decided to kill them, they were already dead so they couldn’t bother me anymore, and anything they did after that was just fuel, like throwing another log into my resolve. I waited until the next night…right in front of his building. And I had the perfect weapon. I picked it up as I walked by the garbage heap…a broken CD, sharp and shiny. I waited by the door. I didn’t care if he saw me. He didn’t know me from dick anyway.
I could hear him coming from blocks away, the boom boom boom in the distance, getting closer, getting louder, until I saw his car lights first and then saw his car. I could feel the air pounding into my face from the booming pushing it. Nobody has the right to force their music onto everybody around them the way this prick was doing. But he wouldn’t be doing it much longer. I ran my thumb over the sharp edge of the CD behind my back. It reminded me of something, but I had to stay focused on the prick getting out of the black Camaro. The music stopped. He banged the door shut–no way to treat a vintage car like that–and he started walking toward the door and me. I looked right into his face. He was younger than I thought, clean shaven, skinny. He was wearing some kind’ve band t-shirt, Prison, or something, and faded blue jeans. He looked at me looking right into his face and looked as though he was trying to figure out who I was or if he knew me or something.
Just before he reached me, I looked around…nobody watching. It was just me and him. He started to say something to me. That’s when I walked right at him and brought the CD up and slashed it across his throat. He looked shocked. It made him look even younger. I slashed his throat again. He just stood there, looking like he didn’t believe what was happening. Blood was spurting out of his throat. I slashed again and he sank down onto his knees. He looked right into my eyes as though he was trying to figure out why I was doing this to him. I said: “I’m the volume control.” He gave me a really confused look then and it made him look really really young, and then I realized that this guy couldn’t be much more than sixteen, and maybe he was just sixteen. Maybe he wasn’t new to the neighborhood. Maybe he was living in this building for a long time with his parents and he just got his license and the Camaro was his first car.
He was just a kid. He fell forward onto his face, dead. Blood from his throat started to spread out onto the sidewalk. He was just a kid.
I figured maybe I should cool it for a while.
And I did. For a month. And then I killed a litterbug…followed him for a week, picking up his litter. A month later, I killed some asshole who was standing in the middle of the sidewalk yakking to some other asshole about nothing. Dumbass saw me coming and just stood there so that I had to step into the street to get around him. I had to follow him for eight days before I got a chance to push him into an oncoming truck. It was like they kept passing that baton from one asshole to the next. Right after the sidewalk hog, I started tracking two dumbasses who threw a Frisbee back and forth right in the busiest section of the park, right in the place where everybody takes their kids and spreads out blankets for picnics and shit. They kept bumping into kids when they ran after the Frisbee and then they threw the Frisbee right into the middle of people’s picnics…and one day the Frisbee hit a little girl in the head and made her bleed. From that one I learned that a broken Frisbee cuts just as well as a broken CD. No sooner were they dead than I stepped into a pile of dog shit on the sidewalk. Got the dog, too. But that was the last time I followed anybody around picking up their shit. About a month after that I just jumped right into this woman’s car. Jumped right into the passenger’s side, right beside her. She was talking to another woman right in the middle of the street, yelling out their windows at each other, just ignoring all the people honking their horns at them to get out of the way. Just as soon as she finished talking and started driving away, I jumped in. Pushed her and her car over a cliff outside the city. Long walk back but it gave me a chance to think about things.
* * *
I thought about all the kinds of assholes in the world, the assholes who don’t flush the toilet and leave shit floating around or just piss all over the toilet seat so you get your ass wet when you take a crap, the assholes who give bartenders and store clerks a hard time just because they know they can get away with it, the assholes who speed up when you try to pass them in a passing zone and then slow down in the no passing zone, the assholes who draw underlines in library books or tear out the pages like I used to do, the assholes who draw fucked up graffiti on the natural beauty of bridges and freeway underpasses, the assholes who leave chewing gum under tables and chairs in restaurants so that you get their gum all over your fingers when you’re putting your gum there, the assholes who call you up when you had a phone and tell you that you’ve won something but you know fucking well that you haven’t, the assholes who make the phone systems that make it impossible to talk to a real human being even if that real human being is just gonna lie to you anyway.
I thought about all the assholes like shitty bosses, child beaters, wife beaters, animal beaters, terrorists, murderers, bankers, scam artists, politicians, thieves – especially the petty ones who steal from people who have next to nothing, like pensioners and welfare bums – pedophiles, lawyers, bad cops, used car salesmen, bullies, striking government workers, other religions, television holy rollers, cults, obscene phone callers, stalkers, rapists, tobacco companies, dictators, kiddy pornographers, vandals, and teachers who pile up the homework on Friday afternoon.
I thought: “Man, I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
It took me until dark to get home, but that was okay…like I said, I did a lot of thinking. Maybe too much thinking. I thought about all the assholes that I took out. I thought about the looks on their faces before they died. That first one, the prick who went around spitting all over the place. The look in his eyes before he died…like he wanted it. But the kid with the boom boom boom didn’t look like he wanted to die. Even the Buick Bitch looked…like whatever it was coming out of her before she died. I tried to make sense out of it. They should’ve all been happy to die…their contribution towards making the world a better place to live for people like me. They should’ve seen it as a species quality thing. But some of them seemed like they really wanted to go on living. It was those ones that I thought a lot about while I was walking home. They all looked so confused, like they couldn’t believe that it was really happening. They looked afraid. They looked pathetic. They weren’t assholes for those few seconds before they died…they were just people dying.
I don’t know how many assholes I’ve killed. Lots. About one a month for a long, long time. And now I’m tired, especially after that long walk into the city, and all that thinking. I figure the thinking is what was more tiring than the walking. It drained me. It kind’ve scared me―all the killing left to do. By the time I got home, it was like this giant wall standing in front of me and I was standing under it with a slingshot, and I couldn’t even see the top of the wall.
* * *
And now I’m home, staring at my living room wall, my bare feet bleeding and cooling down in the night air coming through the window. It smells like somebody’s cooking chicken somewhere. I’d go out and get something to eat, but what’s the point? I’m not hungry anymore. I’m not thirsty, even though I haven’t eaten or had anything to drink since this morning. Jumping into that car was a mistake. People saw. But even that’s not important anymore. And none of the assholes who stare at me frightened, relieved, or confused…stare at me in my own mind, right into the backs of my eyes…none of them are important anymore. Only one thing is important now―that one last asshole.
That one last asshole.